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Municipal CourtMunicipal Court Judge, Building and Clerks

Contact Information                                                

Ottawa Municipal Court

715 W 2nd

Ottawa, KS  66067

Phone (785) 242-5333 

Fax  (785) 242-2564

Judge James Campbell

Jessica Luft, Assistant Court Clerk; jluft@ottawaks.gov

Connie Sams, Court Clerk; csams@ottawaks.gov



Click on: Make Online Court Payment

 Office Hours

The Clerk’s Office and Municipal Court are located at 715 W 2nd.  Hours are Monday-Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

 Rights in Municipal Court

Your presence in Municipal Court is perhaps your first appearance in any court.  This website has been prepared to help you understand the Court proceedings and to inform you of your rights and duties.  We want every person to leave this Court feeling he or she has been treated fairly.  Municipal Court is the judicial branch of the city government.  Traffic infractions and violations of City Ordinances are tried in Municipal Court, and upon conviction carry a maximum fine of $2,500 and a possible jail term.  Trials are conducted under the Code of Criminal Procedure, Code for Municipal Courts and the Kansas Rules of Evidence as adopted by the Kansas Legislature.

 Right to an Attorney

In any case before the Municipal Court you may hire an Attorney.  Only in cases where a jail sentence may result are you entitled to a court appointed Attorney.  If you want a court appointed attorney, you can complete a financial affidavit.  If the court find you are financially eligible the court will appoint an attorney for you.  The court will appoint an attorney from the Municipal Court Panel.  You do not get to choose your attorney. 





IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO KEEP IN TOUCH WITH YOUR ATTORNEY!





If you are found guilty of an offense all or a portion of the Attorney’s fees may be assessed against you.  A court appointed Attorney is not a free attorney.

Additionally, you may have your right to an attorney, By Waving Your Right to an Attorney you are stating to the court that you understand your right to an attorney, but wish to proceed without counsel.

City Attorney

In the Municipal Court, the City of Ottawa is represented by an attorney, the City Prosecutor.  In Ottawa, this is a part-time position, with the City Prosecutor presenting the interests of the city when court is in session.  The City Prosecutor cannot provide legal advice to litigants in the Court.   The current City Prosecutor is Joyce Hendrix-Kuchar.  She can be contacted through the Court Clerk, (785)242-5333.  The City Prosecutor’s  e-mail address is municourt@ottawaks.gov.  The City Prosecutor cannot discuss pending cases with defendants if they are represented by an attorney, either appointed or retained.  The City Prosecutor does not have an established diversion program for persons charged with traffic and misdemeanor offenses.  However, state law provides for diversion of first-time DUI’s and therefore our court does offer diversion agreements for qualifying first-time DUI offenders.  Some people who receive traffic tickets are interested are interested in applying for diversions in an effort to keep the traffic infraction off their driving records.  Our Court does not have such a diversion program, but we do sometimes amend the infraction to a “non-moving” offense, which will have no impact on a driving record.  If you are interested in this possibility, you should come to court on the appearance date shown on your ticket and let the Clerk or the Judge know of your interest in this possibility. If any amendments are granted they must be paid for in cash.    



Information for Attorneys

We have an “open file” policy in regard to discovery.  If you will include a cursory request for documents when you file your entry of appearance, the Clerk will proceed with getting offense reports, etc. for you.

As the Prosecutor is part-time, we try to schedule “attorney dockets” several times each month to allow opportunities to discuss and perhaps settle cases you might have.  Currently, “attorney dockets” are on alternating Wednesdays from noon to 2:00 pm.



Before Court Begins

You must decide upon and enter a plea to the charge against you.  If you signed a citation in front of an officer, you did not plead guilty, but only signed a promise to appear in court on your appearance date.  There are three possible pleas to a complaint:

 1.    Guilty

 2.    No Contest

 3.    Not guilty

Your decision on what plea to enter is the most important decision you will have to make.  We suggest that you read the following explanation of all three pleas before entering your plea.



Plea of Guilty

 By a plea of guilty you admit that you committed the act charged, that the act is prohibited by law and that you have no defense for your act.  Before entering your plea of guilty you need to understand the following:

 1)     The city has the burden of proving its case against you.  You have the right to hear the city’s evidence and to require it to prove its case when you go to  trial.  The law does not require you to prove anything.

 2)     If you were involved in a traffic accident at the time of alleged offense, your plea of guilty could be used later in a civil suit for damages as an admission by you that you were at fault or were the party responsible for the accident.



Plea of No Contest

A plea of NO CONTEST simply means that you do not wish to contest the City’s charge against you, but wish to talk to the Judge about mitigating circumstances.  Judgment will be entered by the Judge and some penalty will be set.  A plea of NO CONTEST cannot be used against you in a civil suit for damages.



Plea of Not Guilty

A plea of NOT GUILTY means that you are informing the Court that you deny guilty and that the City must prove its charge against you.  If you plead NOT GUILTY you will need to decide whether to employ an attorney to represent you at trial.  You may defend yourself, but no one else except an attorney may represent you.  However, if you are a minor (under 18 years of age) one of your parents should be present.  If you defend yourself, please consult the section of the website regarding the trial procedure and the manner of presenting your case.  Under our American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  On a pleaof NOT GUILTY a trial is held and the city is required to prove all the allegations against you as contained in the formal complaint beyond a reasonable doubt before a verdict of guilty can be reached.

The Trial

Under Kansas Law you can be brought to trial only after a complaint or citation had been filed. The complaint or citation is a document that alleges what you are supposed to have done, and that your actions were unlawful.  You have a right to inspect this complaint before trial, and have read to you at trial.  You DO NOT have the right to have your case tried before a jury in the Municipal Court.  You are entitled to hear all testimony introduced against you.  You have the right to testify on your own behalf.  You also have a constitutional right not to testify.  If you choose not to testify, your refusal cannot and will not be used against you in determining guilt or innocence.  However, if you do choose to testify, the prosecutor will have the right to cross-examine you.  You may call witnesses to testify on your own behalf.  You also have the right to have the Court issue subpoenas for witnesses to ensure their appearance at trial.  However, you must furnish the names, addresses, and telephone numbers, of these witnesses to the Court at least ten working days before your trial date so that the witnesses may be located and the subpoenas served.  The court will only serve subpoenas within the City of Ottawa, any service outside the city will be your responsibility.



Presenting the Case

As in all trials, the city will present its case first by calling witnesses to testify against you.  After the prosecution witnesses have finished his/her testimony, you will have the right to cross-examine him/her.  Your examination must be in the form of questions and you must not argue with the witness.  Do not attempt to tell your side of the story at this time.  You will have the opportunity to do so later in the trial.  After the prosecution has presented its case, you may present your case.  You have the right to call any witness who knows anything about the incident, and to introduce exhibits such as photographs and diagrams.



The Verdict

The verdict of the Judge will be based upon the testimony that sounds most reasonable and the facts presented during the trial.  In making determination he can only consider the testimony of the witnesses who are under oath.  If the Judge finds you guilty, he will announce the penalty at that time.  You should be prepared to pay the fine at this time.  However, you may be granted an extension of ten days to appeal the ruling of the judge.

Processing

If you are convicted of a Class A or a Class B Misdemeanor, you are required by Kansas Supreme Court Rule to be processed.  To be processed means to be finger printed and photographed.  If you are convicted of an offense, you will be required to remain at the Court building until the processing is complete. 

Right to Appeal

If you are found guilty of any offense, either by trial or plea, you ALWAYS have a right to appeal your conviction.  An appeal must be filed within 14 days of the date of your sentencing. 

You should file a Notice of Appeal with the Clerk of the Franklin County DISTRICT Court and serve the City Attorney with a copy of the of the Notice of Appeal.  A sample of the Notice of Appeal follows.  You are responsible for completing and filing the Notice of Appeal as well as all applicable costs and fees.  The court staff is prohibited from assisting anyone with any legal matter. Sample Notice Of Appeal

 

Expungement

You have the right to have your Municipal Court Conviction Expunged 3 or 5 years after your case is completed.  Whether the time is 3 or 5 years depends upon the nature of the offense.  An Expungement removes your conviction from the public record.  After Expungement if you are asked if you have been convicted of a crime, you can honestly answer “No.”

To obtain an Expungement you must file a Petition For Expungement with the Court If you are found to be eligible for Expungement, the court will order the same.  It is suggested that you retain an attorney to help you with the Expungement process.  You are not entitled to an appointed attorney for an Expungement.  You may undertake the process without an attorney, but the process is complicated and the court staff is prohibited from assisting you with this or any legal matter.

The following links below will provide you with sample forms required in Expungement cases:

Sample Petition for Expungement

Sample Order of Expungement

Sample Motion for Expungement of Arrest Records

Sample Order for Expungement of Arrest Records

 

Fines

The amount of fine assessed by the Court is affected by facts and circumstances of the case.  Mitigating circumstances may lower the fine, even if you are guilty.  However, aggravating circumstances may increase the fine.  The fine will not exceed $500.00 for most traffic violations; and up to $2,500.00 for Ordinance violations involving driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.



Accident Cases

The Ottawa Municipal Court has no jurisdiction over damages caused by auto accidents.  Settlement of damages is a matter for civil court to decide, and in order to recover for any damages you will have to file a separate civil suit in another court.  Municipal Courts hear only criminal misdemeanor cases involving violation of City Ordinances.



Driving Under the Influence

On a first offense of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol (DUI) you may be eligible for a Diversion.  Kansas State law only allows a DUI Diversion for a first offense.  If you have a prior DUI or a prior diversion for DUI you are not eligible.

A Diversion Agreement may be offered by the City Attorney.  It is the policy of the City Attorney that defendants have an attorney for a DUI Diversion.  You may request a Court appointed attorney for a DUI Diversion if you cannot afford an Attorney.{See Right to Attorney above}



No Proof of Insurance

Effective immediately.  All proof of automobile insurance will need to be presented to the Judge on the day of the individual’s initial arraignment, UNLESS you can provide all of the necessary documentation and then the Court Clerks will be able to dismiss the charges.  Court Clerks can only accept proof of insurance in the form of a letter from your agent on insurance company letterhead by email or at the Court window.  This letter and all written correspondence regarding the proof of insurance must contain the following: (1)citation number, (2)defendant’s name and phone number, (3)vehicle owner’s name-if different than the driver’s, (4)insurance policy number, and (5)verification from agent that you did have automobile insurance on the date and  time of the citation.  Email address is:  municourt@ottawaks.gov 

 

Suspension Due to Unpaid Fines

If your drivers/s license has been suspended due to unpaid fines in the Ottawa Municipal Court, please contact the Municipal Court office in person or by phone.


Check Your Driver's License Status

www.kdor.org/DLStatus

Or Call Driver Solutions in Topeka @ (785)-296-3671

Suspension Due to Other Reasons

If your driver’s license is suspended for any reason other than unpaid fines in the City of Ottawa, you must contact the Division of Motor Vehicles.

Division of Revenue

Motor Vehicle Department

State Office Building

Topeka, Ks 66612

785-296-3671

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City Hall • 101 S. Hickory Street • Ottawa, KS 66067 • Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-5pm • 785.229.3600

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